Press "Enter" to skip to content

Sutton Followed Campaign Finance Rules, So SDGOP Launches False Attack

Republicans have nothing original to throw at their Democratic opponents. The South Dakota Republican Party is recycling a long-dismissed false charge that Billie Sutton tried to hide campaign donations:

South Dakota Republican Party, false Facebook attack on Billie Sutton, 2018.10.03.
South Dakota Republican Party, false Facebook attack on Billie Sutton, 2018.10.03.

This charge is false. The Democratic candidate for Governor did not try to hide any campaign contributions, and the Secretary of State did not intervene and force any candidate to redo any campaign finance report.

As I explained in February, prior to the deadline for submitting 2017 year-end campaign finance reports, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs advised candidates to report all individual contributions from individuals through Democratic fundraising website ActBlue as one lump sum donated directly by the ActBlue PAC. That guidance struck me as running against the desire for transparency—itemizing all the individuals who supported me with online donations was both more factual and better optics than listing one big donation from one PAC that really only processed payments and never met as a board to say, “let’s donate to Cory Heidelberger”—but I followed it and reported just a couple large donations from ActBlue PAC instead of the dozens of individual donations that ActBlue facilitated.

Billie Sutton did the same on his 2017 year-end report, which he filed on January 22, 2018, showing $184,920.01 in contributions from ActBlue South Dakota. On February 2, 2018, after the deadline for filing 2017 year-end reports, Secretary Krebs informed ActBlue that she was reversing her interpretation, dissolving the ActBlue PAC (really just a legal fiction created on paper to satisfy the previous campaign finance law interpretation), and advising candidates to itemize their individual ActBlue donors, effective January 1.

No candidate who followed the Secretary’s standing guidance in 2017 has to revise any form adhering to that earlier guidance to reflect the Secretary’s post-deadline 180° change of guidance. That’s a simple (ex post) fact(o).

The Republicans are so desperate to beat back Billie Sutton’s surge against their own lazy, underperforming nominee that they’re resorting to making stuff up about the honest cowboy from Burke.

Say, while we’re asking about dollars, maybe voters should ask Kristi where she hid the $1.24-million life insurance payout her family got to pay off the $165,000 in estate tax that she used to cry about on the campaign trail all the time.


  1. Jenny 2018-10-04 07:21

    You know when The false negative attacks come, queen kristi team is getting worried.

    You tell them, Cory!

  2. Karen Massee 2018-10-04 08:11

    Go Billie!

  3. Nick Nemec 2018-10-04 08:23

    Kristi and the GOP are running scared, going negative early and often.

  4. Nick Nemec 2018-10-04 08:30

    And don’t forget the sometimes overlooked fact that that $165,000 Federal Estate tax was only due because Kristi’s dad failed to do proper estate planning and kept an old outdated will in force. Had he had an updated will, even had no will of any type Kristi’s mom would have inherited the farm with no Federal tax obligation at all.

    Kristi has been blowing smoke up our collective butts for a decade about this issue. She enjoyed her time as a poor impoverished poster child.

  5. bearcreekbat 2018-10-04 10:31

    I don’t understand the theory that running negative ads means a candidate is scared. I would think, rather, that the candidate (whether honest or corrupt) has simply concluded that running negative ads is an effective way to garner votes. What am I missing?

    The same is true with false ads and lies. If such tactics are more effective in getting votes, then it seems that unethical candidates would naturally use them as a first, not last, resort.

    I can see how the use of negative and false ads reflects poorly on a candidate among more ethical and thinking voters, but for such a candidate why would this be a concern? Thinking and ethical voters are unlikely to support unethical or dishonest candidates no matter what they ads they run.

  6. Jenny 2018-10-04 11:22

    The question is, will the negative lies work with SD voters? I would like to think this could backfire on her.
    Team Sutton needs to put in full page ads and a commercial explaining the truth.

    I hope Sutton knows she is going to play hardball when debate time comes and hope he doesn’t do the typical guy thing and be easy on her since she is a woman. Sutton needs to be strong, prepared and ready for the debates and be ready for any cutesy anti-Hillary one liners.
    Sutton needs to come in fighting and fighting hard.
    Sutton needs to keep at the one party system that has brought on all the state govt corruption and that it’s time for a change.

  7. Sam@ 2018-10-04 16:30

    It is all Republicans have to offer as they watch Noem sink in the polls. If you can not sink him on his merits you make false allegations to create confusion/ Voter will see through it.

  8. Loren 2018-10-04 17:01

    Kristi must be afraid. The last ad I saw of her’s contained pictures of… not Billie, but HILLARY! When will Republicans come up with some theme other than “hate the Clintons”? Getting stale, just like their policies.

  9. Jason 2018-10-04 18:05
    [off topic, effort to distract from facts posted above. —CAH]
  10. Darin Larson 2018-10-04 18:16
    [effective response to Jason's attempted distraction, but still part of the distraction. —CAH]
  11. Jason 2018-10-04 18:20
    [still off-topic, still not able to refute one word I said. —CAH]
  12. T 2018-10-04 21:13

    Did his meet n greet in Pierre
    He didn’t say one negative comment against
    His opponent
    Talked about what he was going to do not about what his opponent wasn’t doing
    Class act

  13. T 2018-10-04 21:17

    No frills evening tonight, no coffee no cookies
    Just driven talk by a young man who is politically giving his heart truly for us regular folk

  14. Debbo 2018-10-05 00:05

    BCB, I understand what you are saying and mostly agree. However, there is more risk with negative than positive ads, I think. The negative ads do risk turning off some voters who are simply repulsed by such things.

    I’m not talking about the Fake Nice Al Novstrup. Truly nice people, I might say too nice, or conflict averse people will remember best the negative, uncomfortable feelings the ad gave them.

    I think some might find a positive ad boring, but would they be offended or turned off by it?

    Still, by and large, negative ads do work. Overall I feel there is a modicum of risk present that does not exist in a positive ad. Therefore, a negative ad could contain a whiff of fear or desperation that positive ads are completely free of.

  15. bearcreekbat 2018-10-05 01:22

    Debbo, that risk seems to have been exemplified in the first primary race Rounds ran for governor as a third place candidate. When the two leaders (Barnett and Kirby if I recall correctly) went negative against each other Rounds stood by and apparently got the votes of Republicans turned off by the negative ads (or possibly convinced by these ads that the two frontrunners were in fact bad candidates).

    Yet I still wonder if either or both of the two leaders were nervous or simply ran the ads because they erroneously concluded they would work despite any possible risk.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-05 06:32

    The Rounds/Kirby/Barnett race is a wonderful example of smart last-minute campaigning taking advantage of fatigue with two big mudslingers and offering voters an easy out. It would have been interesting to test that phenomenon out in 2016 by having Stan Adelstein write Gary Johnson a $25-million check on October 1 and present the public with an alternative who wasn’t as negative as Clinton or Trump.

    Both Sutton and Noem are now firing shots at each other. I don’t think their battle rises to the negativity level of the Kirby/Barnett attacks, and Kurt Evans isn’t going to get a big check from Adelstein (he’s backing Sutton) or any other surprise benefactor. Furthermore, negativity doesn’t lose in a vacuum. Noem has had strong unfavorables throughout her statewide career. She rubs lots of people the wrong way, independent of the negative nature of her ads. Sutton doesn’t have negatives like that. Sutton inspires people. They see him working both sides of the street at the Gypsy Day parade in the rain in his cowboy hat and wheelchair, and even if they know nothing else about him, they say, “Dang, he seems like a nice fella.” Billie Sutton has a larger bank of good will to spend against the possible backlash to his own attack ads on Kristi.

    Here’s my speculation (and perhaps the math going on among the Burke Mafia): if Team Sutton goes toe-to-toe with Noem on negative ads, if they answer each Noem smear with an attack ad of equivalent power, backlash against “negative campaigning” eats away more of Kristi’s gettable voters than of Billie’s gettable voters. Plus, with no surging third option around whom to rally and signal their virtue, more active voters will stick around to mark someone… and the “lesser of two evils” crowd will tilt toward Billie, because (1) it’s pretty hard to look Billie in the eye and call him “evil” and (2) something similar to the sexism that helped Trump beat Clinton by electoral votes will incline a lot voters to say, “Well, Billie was tough on Kristi, but Kristi had it coming because she’s a real b—-.”

    To be clear, that’s not an endorsement of sexism. That’s an assessment and application of public sentiment demonstrated in a recent election.

  17. Jason 2018-10-05 07:25

    The debate teacher has to block statements by the other side that they disagree with.

    If I was able to to that I wouldn’t lose one debate.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-05 19:29

    No, I blocked those statements so readers could focus on the real debate rather than your persistent efforts to erode the quality of conversation with distraction and disruption. As a debate coach, I’d have thrown you out of a round if you tried to interrupt the speakers with irrelevant arguments.

    If you’re unable to debate the facts I’ve presented—Billie Sutton followed campaign finance law, Republicans are lying about it—I don’t mind if you jsut stay quiet until a topic you feel more comfortable disputing comes up in another post. I don’t mind if you start your own blog to introduce your own topics of interest. But your efforts to hijack discussions here with your preferred red herrings are inappropriate.

    Billie Sutton followed campaign finance law and guidance from the Secretary of State. When the Secretary of State changed her guidance after he filed his year-end report, he filed another report following the Secretary of State’s new guidance, even though it was the direct opposite of her past guidance.

    Billie Sutton followed the rules. Republicans are lying about it. It doesn’t take the best debate teacher in South Dakota (Donus Roberts, Watertown) to recognize that every time a speaker tries to distract us from those true statements, that speaker only affirms the irrefutability of those statements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.